How to Get Rid of a Gun (Legally)

by Ryan Cleckner

February 13, 2024



There are many reasons why you might want to get rid of a gun:

  • You purchased a firearm that you no longer want
  • You inherited a gun that you’d rather get rid of
  • You were gifted a gun that you don’t want
  • You found a firearm and don’t know what to do with it

In each of these cases, you want to get rid of a gun but you want to make sure that you do it legally.

I’m an attorney that specializes in federal firearm laws and I’ve helped hundreds of clients against the ATF and have helped thousands more get their FFL and handle firearms properly – I’m going to use this experience to guide you through this process.

Best Method to Get Rid of a Gun

Unfortunately, there is no overall “best” way to get rid of a gun – the biggest factors determining the process you’ll use depend on the status of the firearm and why you want to get rid of it.

For example, if the firearm was found by you and you suspect it is illegal (e.g. the serial number has been removed or it has been illegally converted into a full-auto machine gun) or is connected to a crime, then you’re probably best off turning it in to law enforcement.

However, if you are the lawful possessor of the firearm and you want to sell it to recoup the value of the gun, then your best bet is to sell it in a private transaction or as a transfer through an FFL.

Surrendering Firearm to Law Enforcement

If you’d like to surrender a firearm to law enforcement because you’re not sure about the legal status of the gun, you can contact your local police department or local ATF field office.

Please take this route if you think the firearm is an illegal firearm or if you think it may have been used in connection with a crime.

However, do NOT relinquish the firearm to law enforcement if you simply want to get rid of a firearm that you don’t have a reason to believe is connected to anything criminal – instead, please follow one of these other options…

Selling a Firearm

Very often, the best solution to get rid of a gun legally is to sell it.

You can sell it in a private transaction (if it’s legal in your state), you can sell it online and have the gun transferred through an FFL to the purchaser, or you can sellout or consign it to a local gun dealer.

Private Transaction

Under federal law, and in most states, a private sale to someone within your same state does not need any special paperwork, transfers, etc.

However, please be careful when you’re conducting a private sale:

First, there are security concerns.

Second, you need to be careful who you are selling to – you can not sell a firearm to anyone who you have reason to believe might be a prohibited person (e.g. felons, persons subject to certain restraining orders, etc.)

If you’re ever in doubt about a transaction, you should stop the sale or use a local gun dealer to help you with the process.

Sell the Gun Online

Another option to sell a firearm is online.

It’s not as scary as it might sound if you’re new to this. You can sell the firearm online and then ship it to a local gun dealer for the purchaser to appear in person, complete the paperwork, and satisfy the background check requirements to have the gun transferred to them.

Sell/Consign the Gun to an FFL

The final option is to go into your local gun dealer’s (FFL’s) shop and either sell the gun to them or have them list it for sale as a consignment.

If you need help finding a local FFL, you can search for an FFL here and you can verify the validity of an FFL through FFL eZ Check


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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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